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The 5 Key Turning Points in Your Novel

Last week we took a look at the first of five key turning points novelists need to establish in their story. I’m going to be giving you the first layer of my 10-20-30 Scene Builder concept, and these first ten scenes are the foundation and sheer walls of your story.

If you frame up your story first with these ten scenes, you can add the next ten, and the next, building layers and filling in cracks.

Is the Jar Full Yet?

Have you ever seen anyone fill a jar with rocks and ask, “Is the jar full now?” Teachers love to do this with their young students. The students say yes, it’s full, but then the teacher pours in pebbles, which fill in the spaces between the rocks. “Is it full yet?” the teacher asks.

And so it goes. After the pebbles, sand is poured in, to fill the tiniest spaces yet. But the jar isn’t full! The last element added is water. And once water somehow finds space and fills to the brim, the jar is now declared full. Continue Reading…

A Look at the First Turning Point in Your Novel

We’re about to look at the “10” in my 10-20-30 Scene Builder concept. I suppose I should come up with a better name for this, but haven’t taken the time yet. Maybe you can help me come up with a better name.

But what I’m going to be doing is showing you how you might structure your novel in a practical way. While these thirty scene types represent solid story structure, keep in mind—and I’ll reiterate this numerous times—that this is only one (hopefully fun) way for you to put some structure to all your great ideas for your novel. Or maybe to use as a measure to hold up to your rough (complete or incomplete) draft to see what possible scenes might be missing from your story.

While this doesn’t help to point out the possible superfluous scenes you have that aren’t advancing your plot in a significant way, it will at least show you what scenes you probably should have. Those other scenes—well, they might be just the right transitional scenes. And then again not. Continue Reading…

Understanding Premise and the One-Sentence Story Concept

Over the last few weeks we’ve been taking a look at key moments in your novel’s structure. This week, before we get into the meat of my 10-20-30 Scene Builder concept, I want to make sure you have a clear understanding of premise and the one-sentence story structure.

We really can’t move forward until you have this nailed, so I’ll do my best to help you get there.

Most writers are clear about the inciting incident or initial disturbance that has to come near the start of the book. Yet, I see way too many novels in which there really isn’t a strong impacting incident. Or it’s in the wrong place.

I recently did a fifty-page critique on a novel (which wasn’t the author’s first novel either) that had fifty pages of setup. Backstory. Telling all about how the characters met, fell in love, got married, etc. What was the stated premise? Basically, it told of a man who has something precious taken from him and must face danger and horror to get that thing back. Huh? What did the first fifty pages have to do with any of that? Nothing. Continue Reading…

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